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Dave Says: Mom Has Her Bags Packed for a Guilt Trip

Dear Dave,

My mom makes $20,000 a year, and without telling me she took out a Parent PLUS Loan for $16,000 to help me with college. She’s saying she can’t pay the loan, and it’s been in deferment. Now, she wants me to pay it. I’ll be making good money a few years after I graduate, but I don’t have the money to pay the loan now. What should I do?

Jill

Dear Jill,

A Parent PLUS Loan would not have your name on it, so you have no legal obligation to pay this bill. The real question is this: How much do you want to help your mom after she screwed up big time?

She’s obviously done a horrible job communicating with you and managing her own situation. Under the circumstances, I’m sure that leaves you torn between your loyalty to her and being angry that she messed up. In these cases, I think the best thing is probably to sit down and have a good heart-to-heart talk with her about what she’s done and how to fix things in her own financial world. I know you love your mom, but she’s done a really dumb thing here and gotten herself into a mess. Now, she’s trying to lay a guilt trip on you. That’s not cool.

To be honest, I wouldn’t feel a lot of guilt if I were in your position. If you get yourself in a good financial situation after college and want to pick up part of the tab, just to say thanks, then that would be fine. But don’t get dragged into some kind of dysfunctional family drama and end up paying something out of guilt that’s not your responsibility!

—Dave

* For more financial help please visit daveramsey.com.
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